‘Love is what people say it is’ Researching Experiences and
Representations of Romantic Love in the 21st Century
Professor Michael Gratzke, Professor of German and Comparative Literature
‘Love is what people say it is’, means in a phenomenological sense that people’s
lived experiences and descriptions of love should be taken seriously by love
researchers. Love is what people describe it as being. The trajectory of this kind of
research is inductive.
Additionally there is a performative sense to this sentence where love quite literally
is talked into being through people’s utterances. That is to say, “I love you.” is a
performative utterance in a linguistic sense. Therefore, love can be understood as
comprising no more, and equally no less, than people’s daily performances of love.
Having completed a PhD in Modern German Literature at Hamburg University,
Michael Gratzke moved to the UK in 1999. He held posts as a lector at Cambridge,
and as lecturer and senior lecturer at S Andrews before joining the University
of Hull in September 2014. So far he has published two monographs, one on
representations of masochism, the other on heroism of sacrifice. He is the founder of
the international, multi-disciplinary Love Research Network. He is currently working
on a third book addressing romantic love in German, English and Finnish literature of
the 21st century.
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